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Twoweaponing is the act of wielding two weapons simultaneously to perform additional damage at the cost of overall accuracy, skill points, and time spent in training the ability. Twoweaponing is not available to all roles.

Beginning two-weapon combat

To begin two-weapon combat, you must have your main-hand weapon wielded and your off-hand weapon in your secondary weapon slot. The easiest way to achieve this is usually to wield w your off-hand weapon, use x to swap your weapons, and then wield w your main-hand weapon. Finally, use shift + x to bring your intended off-hand weapon into your off-hand and start dual-wielding. If successful, you have a DEX/20 chance of not using a turn.[1]

Restrictions and prerequisites

Two weapon combat
Max Role

If you are not polymorphed, your role must be one that can reach at least Basic in the two weapon combat skill. If you are polymorphed, it must be into a form that can fight with two weapons.

The two items you try to wield must both be weapons or weapon-tools, and they must both be one-handed. You cannot wield two weapons while wearing a shield.

If your secondary weapon is cursed or you have greasy hands, it will slip to the floor when you try to dual-wield. If your secondary weapon becomes cursed while you are dual-wielding it, it will slip from your hand instead of being welded to it.

If you wield an artifact weapon as a secondary weapon and attempt to twoweapon, you will not be able to engage in two-weapon combat in vanilla NetHack. A message will appear saying “Your <artifact weapon> resists being held second to another weapon!”

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

You can no longer dual-wield launchers (bows, crossbows, slings), ammo (arrows, crossbow bolts) or missiles (darts, shuriken, boomerangs).

Two-weapon combat while polymorphed

You can twoweapon while polymorphed only if your polymorphed form has two weapon attacks, regardless of role restrictions.[2] Most monsters with this property are not valid polymorphable forms. The complete list of polymorphable monsters that can twoweapon is:

Fighting with two weapons

To-hit bonus
Skill level One weapon Two weapons
Unskilled −4 −9
Basic 0 −7
Skilled +2 −5
Expert +3 −3
Damage bonus
Skill level One weapon Two weapons
Unskilled −2 −3
Basic 0 −1
Skilled +1 0
Expert +2 +1

You will always attempt to hit with the primary weapon first, and then the secondary.

As of version 3.6.0, each weapon acts independently. Even if the first weapon misses, you will still attempt to hit with the second.

However, there are some exceptions: you won't attempt to hit with the second weapon if the target was killed or knocked to another location, or if the first weapon was Stormbringer overriding the confirmation to attack peaceful or tame monsters. [3]

The skill used by twoweapon is the lesser of your twoweapon skill and your skill in the weapon used. While twoweaponing, only your twoweapon skill is trained, not the skills of your primary or secondary weapons.[4]

Note that twoweaponing skill bonuses for both to-hit and damage differ from single-weaponing skill bonuses (See Skills for details).

Two weapon combat skill

Two weapon combat
Max Role

When fighting with two weapons, your effective two-weapon skill level for each hand is the lesser of your two-weapon combat skill level and the relevant weapon skill level.

The two-weapon combat skill is considered a weapon skill, in that it costs two skill slots to advance it from Basic to Skilled, and three more skill slots to advance to Expert.[5]

Only roles able to reach at least Basic can engage in two weapon combat.

Skill strategy

Because the two-weapon to-hit bonus and damage bonus calculations always use the lesser of the two-weapon combat skill level and the appropriate weapon skill level, there is no point raising your two-weapon skill higher than those of the weapons you actually intend to use. In particular, Rogues should not advance to Expert if they intend to use long swords or sabers, and Tourists should consider not advancing to Skilled if they intend to use long swords.

Similarly, there is little benefit in raising your weapon skills higher than your two-weapon skill if you intend to dual-wield. Knights and Valkyries can reach Expert in long swords, for example, but only Samurai can actually wield two of them at that skill level.

When wielding two weapons, to-hit calculations are only performed for the main-hand weapon. This means that off-hand weapon skill level is only used to determine the two-weapon bonus damage inflicted by your off-hand weapon. Raising your secondary weapon's skill level to Basic gives you +2 damage for one skill slot, but spending another two slots to reach Skilled's further +1 damage is often not worthwhile.


As a general rule, most roles capable of two-weapon combat should switch to it eventually. Only rogues benefit from wielding a single one-handed weapon, and even they often prefer dual-wielding over backstab damage. Unlike two-handed weapons, a cursed off-hand weapon will slip from your hand instead of being welded to it.

Choosing a secondary weapon

When fighting with two weapons, an obvious choice for the first weapon is your favorite artifact weapon. For the second weapon, popular choices include:

Weapon Class Damage (Small/Large) Comment
Silver saber
  • Expert: Archeologist
  • Skilled: Knight, Rogue, Tourist
  • Basic: Barbarian, Samurai, Valkyrie
  • 1d8+(1d20)
  • 1d8+(1d20)
Very useful for fighting demons in Gehennom
Silver spear
  • Expert: None
  • Skilled: Barbarian, Knight, Samurai, Valkyrie
  • Basic: Rogue, Tourist
  • 1d6+(1d20)
  • 1d8+(1d20)
Very useful for fighting demons in Gehennom
  • Expert: None
  • Skilled: Barbarian
  • Basic: Knight, Tourist, Valkyrie
  • 1d6+1
  • 3d4
High damage versus large monsters
  • Expert: Rogue
  • Skilled: Samurai, Tourist
  • Basic: Archeologist, Knight
  • 1d10
  • 1d10
Good damage versus small monsters, but hard to make and keep
(Long sword)
  • Expert: Knight, Samurai, Valkyrie
  • Skilled: Barbarian, Rogue
  • Basic: Tourist
  • 1d10
  • 1d12
High damage, and uses the long sword skill
Elven broadsword
  • Expert: None
  • Skilled: Barbarian, Rogue, Samurai, Knight, Valkyrie
  • Basic: Tourist
  • 1d6+1d4
  • 1d6+1
Easy to find and hits small monsters hard



For SLASH'EM players, the commands to activate the two-handed combat skill are #twoweapon or #2weapon. In SLASH'EM, artifacts do not refuse to be two weaponed in a secondary position, and two artifacts can be wielded at once (although, this forfeits the off-hand artifact's on-wield abilities). This introduces some interesting weapon combinations.

Only certain roles and certain races can fight two-handed. Of the game's many races, only humans, elves and dwarves can twoweapon. Annoyingly, other races might still see "two-handed combat" in their #enhance screen even though they cannot use it. Attempting to activate two-handed combat produces the message, "<Your race> <Your role> aren't able to use two weapons at once."[6][7]

SLASH'EM roles that can twoweapon, in addition to those in vanilla NetHack, are Flame Mage, Ice Mage, and Yeoman. All can reach Skilled proficiency. Duergars and bearded devils can also twoweapon.


In SporkHack, there are a number of significant changes to two-weapon fighting. First, Rangers and Cavemen can fight two-handed, albeit only at basic skill. Second, and more significantly, there are restrictions on what weapons can be wielded in the off hand, based on the player's twoweapon skill. At basic or unskilled, you can use daggers, knives, and other weapons that weigh 10 or less. At skilled, you can use maces, short swords, spears, and others weighing 20 or less, and at expert, long swords, broadswords, and sabers become available. Several weapons have had their weights adjusted to fit into this scheme.

Wielding a too-heavy weapon in your off hand leads to heavy to-hit penalties, on the order of −20. This is much more significant than it would be in vanilla NetHack since SporkHack has altered the to-hit mechanics and given late-game monsters better armor class.

This seriously alters weapon selection, especially for classes like Archaeologists and Barbarians. Particularly, Rogues and Samurai will now be the only roles likely to wield an off-hand silver saber, which was formerly among the strongest off-hand choices. To compensate somewhat, a few new weapons including the silver short sword have been added.


dNethack ported off-hand weight restrictions from SporkHack.


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It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.1. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-361}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.